The obvious solution is to return to traditional methods: establish an independent income, then take up scientific research as a hobby.
Historically, our most notable scientists were working at day jobs or otherwise independently wealthy, and did amazing research on their own as a hobby. Some devoted entire wings of their house towards scientific research, amassing a collection of equipment (or specimens) over decades.
Henry Cavendish, of the Cavendish experiment, is one such example. The experiment was so delicate that air currents would affect the measurements, so Cavendish set up the experiment in a shed on his property and measured the results from a distance, using a telescope.
There used to be a term "Gentleman Scientist" for this, but it might more accurately be called "self-funded research".
Consider Paul Stamets as a modern example. With only an honorary doctorate, he is co-author on many papers and has proposed several medications, including treatments for cancer.
I could also nominate Robert Murray Smith to the position. His YouTube Videos are as good as many published Chemistry papers.
The benefits are obvious: You get to work on whatever you think is interesting (or fruitful), you can set your own pace, and you can draw your own line between supporting your dreams and your lifestyle: If you have a family emergency, you can pause your research and spend more money on personal welfare. It also forces you to come up with more efficient (read: less expensive) ways to work.
There's a wealth of useful equipment on eBay and other places, big expensive equipment is not out of the reach of the dedicated researcher. Ben Krasnow has three (I think) electron microscopes. I personally own a UV/VIS spectrophotometer. a microgram scale, and a Weston cell.
The idea that "research can only be done at the behest of government" or "is only associated with university" is a modern fiction. Government would *like* you to believe that everything depends on their whim and largesse, but it's not the only, nor even the best way.
Build a lab and start tinkering, or join a hackerspace. Lots of people do it. Lots of good science is done this way.